Is your old tech now worth a pile of money or totally worthless?
How much would you give me?
One of the great pleasures of technology is watching it grow and develop. Yet sadly, with each new piece of tech improving on its predecessor comes the old growing obsolete. Ask any tech enthusiast about the pains of replacing hardware, and they'll probably mention a box they've got stashed somewhere filled with instruments of a bygone era, gathering dust until the day they can be flipped for a good price. Or, are completely forgotten for good.
As many of the game consoles, phones and music players of our youth officially become retro, we decided to delve into our drawers, closets and parents' attics for old electronics and see what they might fetch online these days. To be totally thorough, we also also compared what the tech would be selling for at 2015 prices using the United States Department of Labor's Consumer Price Index.
While tech isn't as cyclical in nature as fashion (just barely), there seems to always be a market out there, especially for classic pieces like...
Nintendo Entertainment System
What is it? Following the video game crash of 1983 in North America, it looked like gaming was doomed to be just another fad in the way of the Rubik's Cube and the unironic mullet. Enter the soon-to-be household name Nintendo releasing the Nintendo Entertainment System two years later and taking the youth of America (and, a year later, Europe) by storm.
Featuring classic games like Duck Hunt, Metroid and Super Mario Brothers, the NES ushered in a new golden age for video games not seen since the likes of Pong and Pac-Man, and in many respects still sets the standard for retro gaming today.
What did it cost then? $299 (approx. $663 today's dollars)
What's it worth now? While modern devices such as the RetroN 5 are designed to play old games from the NES era, those looking for the real deal can get a classic NES online for the price of $70/£45, though if you managed to have accessories such as the bundled NES Zapper peripheral and the pack-in version of Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt in good condition, you could possibly double the price to the tune of $130/£85.
Sony Walkman TPS-L2
What is it? Both a pop-culture icon and the forefather of on-the-go listening, the Walkman changed the way people interacted with music forever. Released in 1979, the Walkman TPS-L2 allowed for cassette tapes to be played anywhere using headphones, ditching the bulky boombox and paving the way for portable music listening worldwide. While Walkman as a brand persisted into the MP3 era, the TPS-L2 remains the evocative image of retro music tech for both audiophiles and comic book fans alike. Why comics? One sec...
What did it cost then? $200 (approx. $659 today's dollars)
What's it worth now? Thanks to the film Guardians of the Galaxy, the TPS-L2 has boomed in popularity since it was featured on-screen as Peter Quill's favorite accessory. While functioning Walkmen had been going for about $135/£88, they have jumped up considerably following the release of Marvel's sci-fi flick, now netting auction bids of $613/£400 to even $900/£588. Even non-functioning ones have been able to fetch a good price thanks to the cosplay market, so if you aren't saving yours for a Star Lord costume this Halloween, it's time to sell, sell, sell!
What is it? Originally developed in Japan in 1996 by Bandai, the Tamagotchi soon became a fad for '90s kids and wannabe pet owners around the world. A virtual creature, housed in an egg-shaped electronic keychain, required food, attention and even hygiene from its owner, resulting in many a neglected digital pet when the popularity started to wane.
What did it cost then? $16-$18 (approx. $27 today's dollars)
What's it worth new? There isn't much of a collector's market for old Tamagotchis, considering that the virtual pets still live on in app form. That said, you could still probably hock the one you left starving in your childhood desk drawer for between $20-$50 (£13-£33), depending on whether you're holding onto a newer North American release model, a harder to find Japanese import or one of the original series.
Motorola Razr V3
What is it? As much a fashion accessory as it was a cell phone, the Razr was *the* phone on the wishlist of every business executive, celebrity and high school student at the time. Released in 2004 and consistently updated with more bells, whistles and color schemes, the Razr's super-thin clamshell design made it stand out amongt the bulkier, "ugly" phones of the day. If you attended school in North America or Europe during the mid-2000s, you knew at least one popular kid who had a Razr.
What did it cost then? $450 (approx. $568 today's dollars)
What's it worth now? Considering how successful and ubiquitous the Razr was back in its heyday, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that there is still a demand for old Razrs for those not interested in today's smartphone game. The bad news is that even limited-edition varieties like the Product Red Razr only fetch around $30/£20. Other used models net around $20/£13, so while easy to flip (like the phone itself), don't expect a huge payday.
1st generation iPhone
What is it? No introduction should be necessary for the iPhone, but it's what we do. Introduced to the world in 2007, this little brick of wonders forever changed Apple as a company and smartphones as an industry. While currently on the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, the very first version captured so much of what smartphone design is today, from its minimalist design to its simplified user interface and app-based functionality.
What did it cost then? $599 ($689 today) at launch, but then dropped to $399 ($459 today for the 8GB model)
What's it worth now? Like anything else, the better the condition you're proto-phone is in, the more you'll be able to net selling it online. In this particular case, however, the difference between "slightly used" and "pristine" is staggering. While $40/£26 seems to be the average going rate on old or even nonfunctional iPhones (specifically the 8GB model), factory-sealed boxes are seeing bids between $9,000-$15,000 (about £5,880-£9,800). It's hard to imagine someone buying an iPhone at launch without even opening the box, but if you did somehow...
What is it? A fad that delighted geeks and infuriated fashionistas, the calculator watch was the predecessor to the modern wearable computer. Sporting a full-featured digital watch face, these babies could carry out arithmetic and scientific functions. While a slew of modern smartwatches have surfaced over the past few years, retro junkies and trend-bucking hipsters have a soft spot for these multi-faceted timepieces.
What did it cost then? $40-$80 (approx. $92-$184 in today's dollars), depending on the model and materials
What's it worth now? Manufacturers such as Timex and Casio have had a long lineup of calculator watches stemming as far back as the early '80s. While earlier models will certainly be fetch a prettier penny than their late-game brethren, don't expect too big a payout. While museum-grade scientific calculator watches can go for several hundred dollars, the models latched to your average high school chemistry teacher's wrist tend to be later-year Casio Data Banks that range from $25-$50 (£16-£33)
What is it? The grandpappy of console gaming, Atari may not have been the first to bring video games into the home when it launched in 1977 (that honor is generally attributed to the Magnavox Odyssey five years earlier), but the 2600 was an icon. A tribute to the '70s down to its faux-wood finish, the 2600 introduced families across the nation to now-classic titles such as Missile Command, Adventure, Space Invaders and Pitfall!.
What did it cost then? $200 (approx. $788 today's dollars)
What's it worth now? More often than not, you'll be selling all your Atari products en masse, and full bundles (including controllers, joystick, games, spare wires) tend to go for around $100 (£65) and on, depending on how many extras you toss in to sweeten the pot. The game console on its own tends to sell online for the neighborhood of $40-$50 (£26-£33).
What is it? Clunky by today's standards, the original iPod was considered a paragon of sleek design when Apple released it in 2001. Fourteen years later, the iPod is now a 21st century icon, helping do for digital music what the Walkman did for cassettes and bringing portable music to the masses. While the "classic" iPod design has been put to the wayside, the iPod Shuffle, Nano and Touch models, along with Apple Music, have kept the legacy alive.
What did it cost then? $400 (5GB, approx. $539 today's dollars) / $500 (10GB, approx. $674 today)
What's it worth now? If you still have the first-generation iPod, you can expect anywhere from $50 (£33) to $190 (£124) to over $220 (£144) depending on the condition and if you kept all the power cords and accessories. That's not terrible, until you consider that factory-sealed, special edition, or collected first, second, and even third-generation iPods are fetching a range of $5,000 (£3,267) - $100,000 (£65,334). *whistling noise*
Nintendo Game Boy
What is it? Released in 1989 to resounding sales and appreciation of many a kid stuck on a long car trip, the Game Boy cemented Nintendo's status as a handheld gaming giant. Launching with Super Mario Bros. and a modest little title known as Tetris, the Game Boy struck a chord with both newcomers and long-time players, leading to later iterations and eventually evolving into the Nintendo DS and 3DS lineup of hardware.
What did it cost then? $90 (approx. $173 today's dollars)
What's it worth now? The price of Game Boys seemed to all be fairly similar, from the original grey-and-green model to the Game Boy Color to the improved Game Boy Advance. While the price hovers around $30/£20, the price rises dramatically for near-mint copies that include the Tetris pack-in. Considering that Nintendo sold over 100 million of these babies, don't expect much rarity, though it may not be hard to find a seller looking to relive their glory days of playing Pokémon Red Version.
Vintage Marantz audio receivers
What is it? The very embodiment of vintage audio, Marantz and their lineup of speakers and receivers were a staple of any music-lover's crib in the '70s. While the times have come and gone, Marantz products have made a name for themselves not just for nostalgia but also for the sheer power and nigh-indestructibility of its soundware.
What did it cost then? $600 (Marantz 2270 receiver, approx. $2,904 today's dollars)
What's it worth now? In general, well-kept Marantz pieces and other vintage audio equipment fetch good prices in the collector's market. In particular, the Marantz 2600 (pictured) is a better-known model that has been seen going for prices from $3,000 (£1,960) approaching $7,000 (£4,573). Condition is everything when appraising old tech, so it's not surprising that the eBay search results for the 2600 mostly lists replacement parts, namely LEDs intended to keep the Marantz's signature blue lights functioning well past their prime. The 2270, another popular model, can go for $719 (£468) - $1,150 (£748) if they've been taken care of.
Texas Instruments Speak & Spell
What is it? Developed in the late 1970s alongside the Speak & Read and Speak & Math, the Speak & Spell was a combination children's toy and learning aid capable of synthesizing speech. By talking to the user, it could actively quiz them on how to spell words. While rudimentary in its own way, the device found its way into many a school and music album, as well as paved the way for modern voice synthesis technology. Not bad for a toy thAt soUnDs liKE ThiS.
What did it cost then? $50 (approx. $183 today's dollars)
What's it worth now? While used Speak & Spells aren't exactly plastic gold, you can still get a few bucks for them on eBay. That said, find one in your childhood toy chest that's still in good condition and you could net yourself around $50/£33, a price that doubles if you managed to keep the box in good shape as well. Again, not bad for a toy thAt soUnDs liKE ThiS.
What is it? Debuting with the famous "1984" Super Bowl ad directed by Ridley Scott, the Macintosh made its presence known. While customers might not have known what to expect amidst the imagery of Orwell's dystopian future, we know the Macintosh as the great-great-greeeat grandma of the Mac seen in offices, studios, and homes across the world today. Thankfully, the advertising has taken it down a notch on the intensity meter.
What did it cost then? $2,495 (approx. $5,731 today's dollars)
What's it worth now? A complete Macintosh setup can actually go for a hefty sum, approximately $2,000/£1,307. The individual components can also net more than your usual chump change, with mice and old software floppy discs holding their own on the online marketplace.
Found any treasures?
With luck, we may have stumbled across something you can use to earn yourself a little spending money or encourage a little household tidying up. If you do end up making a mint on of your old electronics, don't forget about sending your pals at techradar a little something-something as a way of saying thanks!